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"Really Improved" Lindberg Is Camp's Top Rookie

by Jim Cerny / New York Rangers

The soft-spoken Oscar Lindberg prefers to let his play do the talking for him, and his play during training camp and pre-season this fall has spoken volumes, so much so that he has been voted the recipient of the 2015 Lars-Erik Sjoberg Award as the Rangers best rookie in training camp, as voted on by the beat writers who cover the team.

The soon-to-be 24 year-old, who was acquired in a trade from the Coyotes in May of 2011 after Arizona had made him its second round draft choice the year before, has followed up two extremely successful seasons with the Hartford Wolf Pack in the AHL with an outstanding pre-season with the Blueshirts, one in which he has recorded three points (2-1-3) over four games heading into Wednesday's pre-season finale against the Boston Bruins at Madison Square Garden.

Lindberg, who scored 28 goals in Hartford last season, netted a third-period goal against the Devils on September 21 in the Rangers pre-season opener. The next night down in Philadelphia Lindberg scored a second-period goal and a minute later assisted on a Mat Bodie score.

As important as his offensive production has been, Lindberg's solid and smart defensive play, ability to win puck battles consistently, success in the face off circle, and the ability to play successfully on the wing as well at his center position has earned him praise from head coach Alain Vigneault throughout camp.

"With what I had heard from the coaches in Hartford, that's what I've been seeing in Oscar," Vigneault said recently. "I'm seeing a really improved player. In the second half of last year, he was a dominant two-way centerman that played with bite. You can see he's got a really good skill set, is a real good skater. He's been able to be a very effective player in the American League, now can he come into the NHL and be an effective player here?"

With final cuts to the roster looming, Lindberg seems to have put himself in a good spot to be with the varsity once the regular season opens October 7 in Chicago thanks to his solid play during camp and the pre-season.

Lindberg joins an impressive list of players who have previously won the Lars-Erik Sjoberg Award, one that includes Mike Richter, Tony Amonte, Dominic Moore, Henrik Lundqvist, Marc Staal and Derek Stepan.

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